Premium content giant HBO has acquired the North American streaming rights to sports documentary “The Weight of Gold” and will debut it at 9 p.m. on July 29, the company announced Monday.
The film, which explores the mental health challenges Olympians face, is narrated and executive produced by 23-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming Michael Phelps. The doc is an HBO Sports presentation of a Podium Pictures production in association with Octagon.
“The film chronicles the uniqueness of the lives of Olympic athletes, beginning at very young ages, and the demands of their pursuit of the pinnacle in their sports,” HBO said. “The rewards are no doubt tremendous, but the mental costs – in the wake of both failure and success – can also very real, as detailed by the stories of some of the most recognizable Olympic names of the last few generations.”
“The Weight of Gold” will feature Phelps sharing an account of his personal struggles, as well as fellow Olympians Jeremy Bloom, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, Bode Miller, Shaun White, Sasha Cohen, David Boudia, Katie Uhlaender, and, posthumously, Steven Holcomb and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson (shared by his mother, Linda Peterson).
From the HBO announcement:
This documentary is being released at a critical moment for the millions in society who struggle with mental health – an issue greatly exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The film spotlights Olympic athletes, a group that has long quietly battled its own mental health crisis and is now grappling with the unprecedented postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games and all its implications. The film seeks to inspire the discussion of mental health, encourage help-seeking behavior, and highlight the need for readily available help and support.
“I believe I have experienced a state of depression after every Olympics I competed in,” Phelps said. “For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person. When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of, or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition. In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s ok to not be ok. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”
The film will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.
“Making documentaries always provides the opportunity to learn about your subject along the way,” director Brett Rapkin said. “Unfortunately, this particular project involved unexpectedly learning about a serious mental health crisis that I was not previously aware of: Post-Olympic Depression. The current global health crisis has only brought more urgency to finding ways to reduce the stigma of seeking help and provide excellent mental health resources for not only Olympians but everyone.”